*Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa;†Infectious Diseases, College of Health Sciences at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda;‡Independent Consultant, Yountville, CA;§Pharmacology Department, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom;║Chennai Antiviral Research and Treatment Clinical Research Site, YRGCARE Medical Centre, Voluntary Health Services, Chennai, India;¶Department of Internal Medicine, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa;#HIV, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA;**Clinton Health Access Initiative, Boston, MA; and††Julius Global Health, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
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Background:Reducing doses of antiretroviral drugs, including stavudine (d4T), may lower toxicity, while preserving efficacy. There are substantial concerns about renal and bone toxicities of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF).Setting:HIV-1–infected treatment-naive adults in India, South Africa, and Uganda.Methods:A phase-4, 96-week, randomized, double-blind, noninferiority trial compared d4T 20 mg twice daily and TDF, taken in combination with lamivudine (3TC) and efavirenz (EFV). The primary endpoint was the proportion of participants with HIV-1 RNA <50 copies per milliliter at 48 weeks. Adverse events assessments included measures of bone density and body fat. The trial is registered on Clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02670772).Results:Between 2012 and 2014, 536 participants were recruited per arm. At week 96, trial completion rates were 75.7% with d4T/3TC/EFV (n = 406) and 82.1% with TDF/3TC/EFV (n = 440, P = 0.011). Noncompletion was largely due to virological failure [6.2% (33) with d4T/3TC/EFV versus 5.4% (29) with TDF/3TC/EFV; P = 0.60]. For the primary endpoint, d4T/3TC/EFV was noninferior to TDF/3TC/EFV (79.3%, 425/536 versus 80.8% 433/536; difference = −1.49%, 95% CI: −6.3 to 3.3; P < 0.001). Drug-related adverse event discontinuations were higher with d4T (6.7%, 36), than TDF (1.1%, 6; P < 0.001). Lipodystrophy was more common with d4T (5.6%, 30) than TDF (0.2%, 1; P < 0.001). Creatinine clearance increased in both arms, by 18.1 mL/min in the d4T arm and 14.2 mL/min with TDF (P = 0.03). Hip bone density measures, however, showed greater loss with TDF.Conclusions:Low-dose d4T combined with 3TC/EFV demonstrated noninferior virological efficacy compared with TDF/3TC/EFV, but mitochondrial toxicity remained high. Little renal toxicity occurred in either arm. Implications of bone mineral density changes with TDF warrant investigation.